The appointment was announced on the 80th birthday of Jacques, who will remain Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Jacques Saadé stated: “Rodolphe has proven himself over the years, and he has my deepest trust as Chief Executive Officer of the Group. I know that, with Rodolphe as CEO, with Farid Salem and Tanya Saadé Zeenny, our Executive Officers, and all our teams around the world, the Group will continue its development with the same commitment and passion”.
After having left Lebanon to protect his family from civil war, Jacques Saadé moved to Marseilles where he set up the Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement (CMA) in September, 1978, with one shipping line linking Marseilles, Livorno (Italy), Lattakia (Syria) and Beirut (Lebanon). With only one vessel and one line, CMA was born. The company experienced incredible growth, based on Jacques Saadé’s faith in the development of worldwide trade and the crucial role of the container in the global shipping industry.
In 1983, his first vessels sailed beyond the Mediterranean Sea and crossed the Suez Canal. In 1986, he launched a shipping line linking Northern Europe to Asia (Singapore, South Korea, Japan). In 1992, he opened CMA’s first commercial office in China, in Shanghai, because he was convinced China would become the factory of the world. By combining a strategy of strong internal growth with targeted acquisitions leading to the conquest of new markets, such as CGM in 1996 or Delmas in 2005, his company became number three ranked in 2006.
Rodolphe Saadé was previously Executive Officer. After he founded a company selling water coolers in Middle East, he joined the Group in 1994 in the U.S. He then worked in Hong Kong before returning to Marseilles to head a shipping line linking Northern China to Japan. From 1997 to 2000, Rodolphe Saadé successively headed different shipping lines. In 2008, when a cruise yacht owned by Le Ponant, a CMA CGM subsidiary at that time, was hijacked, he was the one who led negotiations with the pirates, which ended with their release.
In 2009, he took over responsibility of the Group’s financial restructuring. In 2015 and 2016, he successfully led the voluntary general cash offer for Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), a Singapore based container shipping company. In April of last year, he conducted the talks leading to the signature of the largest operational agreement of the sector with three Asian competitors.